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Posted: June 16, 2012 8:33 p.m.

McCoy: Life before the mirror

I hate mirrors. There's one in each of our bathrooms, and there's a mirror in the hall, and there's supposed to be one in our bedroom, but I haven't put it up since we moved in last year. Why would I want another mirror? The ones I already have hate me as much as I hate them. It's like they are all saying, "Hey, David...look over here!" and when I do, I see an old man staring back at me. And that old man is me. And I don't like what I see. My mind's eye sees me as young and vibrant, with a full head of hair and a sharp jawline. My mirrors - those cold, calculating and hateful things - see me as a flabby, balding, and pathetic creature who has met up with Time and lost...big time. Mirrors won't lie to me, and right now, I need a few well-placed lies.

Man hasn't always been vexed and haunted by mirrors. There are no mirrors in the forest, and I've yet to find a cave with a full-length reflection staring back at me. Long ago, if you wanted to see yourself, you had to lean down over a pond, like Narcissus. "Hi, beautiful! Long time, no see!" In other words, you could avoid your own reflection, if you desired. And that's what people did. They didn't stare into mirrors to see their rotting teeth, moldy ears, and unkempt hair. They just imagined what they looked like and they went about their lives with a clear image in their heads. They may have scared their neighbors, but at least they weren't constantly shocked back to reality by their own visual awareness of their gray hair, warts, lines, and crags. But that's all changed. Now, we see ourselves in mirrors, and photographs, on video tapes, and DVDs and on the computer screen. And - mostly - we don't like what we see: "I look so fat! My gosh! Look at my hair! I'm a mess!" We've become like Narcissus but we aren't in love with our images; we're appalled by what we see. Mostly. The young and beautiful among us adore their mirrors...for now. But those of us who've stood before the mirror for decades, wish we lived in a time before mirrors - a time when reflecting ponds were scarce, our mind's eye was kind, and its lies were our sweet reality.


David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Covington and can be reached at davmccoy@bellsouth.net

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